Possessing strong nursing skills obviously is vitally important, but RNs seeking to advance and succeed in nursing must also demonstrate qualities valued in just about every profession.
The following six skills help set apart the run-of-the-mill RN from the RN with the best chances for career advancement.
Communication. This is the most important skill needed for any job, but especially for nurses, who must communicate (speaking and listening) to both physicians and patients (and patients’ families). Both parties must be communicated with differently — doctors will require technical details, while patients will want to know what’s happening in "plain English" and need the nurse to be an advocate as well as a link to hospital staff. Even nurses in research and education must be able to communicate effectively.
Knowing or learning a second language can be a huge benefit as nurses who speak multiple languages — including sign language — can better communicate with patients.
Patience. Being a nurse means long days (and nights) are ahead of you, considering the prevalence of 10- and 12-hour shifts. That means the best nurses know how to pace themselves and don’t get frazzled by the frustrating parts of the jobs, such as endless paperwork. Keeping calm is of the utmost importance because nursing often involves managing distress. Distraught patients and families in crisis are a regular part of any nursing job — and perhaps the most difficult thing to handle because no two situations are the same.
Organization. Administrative work and clinical care are difficult to balance for some, so attention to detail is key — everyone’s heard nightmare stories of patients being forgotten in their rooms. A nurse has far-reaching consequences, as even the smallest mistake can produce tragic results, making strict attention to detail second nature. Recording a patient’s medical history accurately and asking the right questions are vital.
Leadership. It goes without saying that the best nurses will advance to leadership positions. Charge nurses, for example, are assigned to oversee a specific department within a healthcare facility. Duties may include tracking and ordering inventory on medications, creating schedules and delegating nursing assignments. And RNs get promoted by taking charge of situations.
A solid way to demonstrate leadership is by exuding confidence. Nurses must show they possess the skills to provide the best possible care and work independently with little supervision. Self-doubt in a crisis situation can be dangerous.
Mental Toughness. Emotions can run high in any setting where nurses work because of patients, their families, long work hours and dozens of other factors. Meantime, emergency situations require clear thinking and good judgment. In other words, nursing requires physical, mental and emotional strength. A healthy lifestyle producing a high energy level is important for a successful nurse. You can’t do your best on the job if you aren’t taking care of yourself.
Technical Savvy. New laws require healthcare organizations to incorporate digital technology at every level, including patient health records. And healthcare is a dynamic field, requiring successful nurses to be dedicated toward continuing education and participation in professional organizations. Those whose skills become stagnant will find themselves missing out on advancement opportunities.